Ok ok....I've studied theme park attractions for easily over 30 years. Like many on here, it's an obsession and part of my daily life. I don't have the opportunity to travel often so I enjoy living vicariously through others. So Disney builds a new land based on Pandora...whoop-eh-dee-doo! Like mostly everybody, I write it off as something I really don't care about. So it opens and people report that Flight of Passage is amazing. Yeah yeah....go on...it's a screen based simulator. How original Disney! You've let me down a lot recently and I have lost faith that you are capable of capturing my heart and spirit.
So Thursday is Animal Kingdom day and we've got FP at 3:30 to Flight of Passage. I check in and I'm handed a card that has all these warnings on it. Fear of heights...check! High blood pressure...check! Back and neck problems.....check! Claustrophobic...double check! "If you are uncertain if this flight is right for you, we advise you NOT to fly." Wow...thanks Disney! Scared me right from the get-go! My wife is prone to motion sickness. She reads the card and starts to walk towards the exit. I stand there watching dozens of people passing me by in the FP lane and I get cold feet. I start walking after my wife towards the exit and some wise guy says "you're going the wrong way ladies!" and laughs.
So we reach the FP CM and I start asking a lot of questions about the ride. He tells me if I like Soarin, this is no big deal. OK...I enjoy Soarin, but I don't like the height of Soarin so I often avoid riding it. He says "ask for the low row because it's only 3 STORIES off the ground compared to 4 or 5 stories that the other rows are on! Oh that's MUCH MUCH BETTER!!! ONLY "3" stories in the air!! UGH!
We literally stand there for 10 minutes looking at each other, neither one of us wanting to proceed. Stupid Disney and your stupid warnings! I ignore them on EVERY other attraction you've ever built! Why do I care so much about this one!?!?! The fear of the unknown was overwhelming but at the last minute, I grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the entrance. We requested "the lowest level" and stood there for 10 minutes in line with many other people. We didn't speak. I could feel my heart racing in my neck and that's never a good thing!
We enter the genetic matching room. Everyone is paired with their avatar EXCEPT me! Mine just keeps scrolling through all these different Na'vi with "NO MATCH" displayed for the longest time. I get self conscious and take it as a sign NOT to ride. Suddenly this lovely female Na'vi pops up next to me and tells me she's my match. FINALLY!
We move into the pre-flight briefing room and the CM inside once again says "If you are not sure this flight is for you, you should leave NOW!" I begin to well up with tears. I had never had this kind of anxiety from any theme park attraction in my life. I felt like a scared little 8 year old. My wife looked at me and saw my face, took my hand and asked if I wanted to quietly exit. "NO! I am not going to let a screen based ride intimidate me!"
We move into the ride vehicle chamber and I place my belongings inside the storage bin and climb upon my banshee. The restraints lock around my body and I feel all the blood rush to my feet. The room goes quiet and I look down at the little display that has a picture of me and my avatar getting linked together. I grip the handlebars as tightly as I can. The cover opens and we are transported to the world of Pandora....
NEVER in my life had I been so touched or moved by a theme park attraction!! It wasn't just a ride...it was a spiritual experienced that energized me to my very soul! Disney proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there still is magic in Imagineering! I needed this...I needed this badly to restore my faith in a company that has always been a huge part of my life. This attraction left me without words. And I still cannot truly state what a remarkable feat of engineering it is! It is certainly everything people claim it to be and more.
The moral of this story is simple. You HAVE to ride this attraction! Had I backed out as I had planned to do, I would have missed the most beautiful and amazing attraction Disney ever built. Of course don't put your life in jeopardy for ANY theme park ride but also don't let the warning card intimidate you. While the ride was in progress, not one of those warnings that applied to me bothered me in the least. I didn't feel confined. I didn't feel 3 stories in the air. My neck and back didn't care one bit because my mind was so stimulated, nothing else mattered. It truly is an experience I never imagined possible. Since my first ride on Journey Into Imagination in 1988, this is the one and only time I can say an attraction moved me emotionally and spiritually. A+ Disney! Bravo!Tweet
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